I will stand at my watch & position myself on the
rampart, and watch to see what He'll say to me.
Since last August my heart's begun to move to a lofty locale in the upper, northeastern part of Washington State. It's a piece of God's earth well known to me and my family because, back in the late 1800s my Wells kin (James Elmer & Annie McFadden-Wells) migrated from Grand Rapids, Michigan to homestead on Jackass Butte above the Okanogan Valley.
James Elmer 1862-1919 &
Annie Clare 1859-1956
My father, the 7th of 10 children, grew up there. And, with the untimely death of his father (from an abscessed tooth, no less), he helped grandmother Annie manage their homestead, as well as to raise the younger of his siblings. Two of them, Dad and his sister, Helen (same name as my mother), remained in the area long after the other siblings moved elsewhere. Eventually Dad would meet & marry another Helen and move further west to Seattle while Aunt Helen married & raised her children in the valley. That branch of the family tree remains there still.
It's a place of contrasts, Okanogan Country: stark & inhospitable on the one hand, beautiful & mesmerizing on the other. A haunt for cattle, indians & cowboys, little has changed since pioneering days. Scrub Pine, Tumbleweed & Gypsophila (Baby's Breath) decorate the landscape; and rodeos and auctions are routine fare. Outdoorsmen of every ilk ~ be they locals or city-slickers ~ flock to the hills, lakes, rivers & streams for fishing & hunting forays. Bake sales & church picnics are routine, all the while boot-clad men head on into town for their morning coffee at the Cariboo Inn, certain the world pivots on the fat chewed over their morning brew.
This is not a place or people given to lavishes. Theirs is a humble life, where faith, family & friends are truly at the heart of daily life. You won't find a mall or many eateries closer than Wenatchee or Spokane, some 2 hours away. What you will find is an abundance of baseball fields, fair grounds, small churches (every iteration) stock yards, fenced pastures & open range land, and farm supply outlets.
Over the years I spent a good deal of time with my country cousins. It began when I was a wee child; when hanging out with four wild & clever boys was the antithesis (& delight) of my prissy & nearly all-female populated world (having but 3 sisters & no brothers). Eventually Terry was introduced to that home on the range, and was equally smitten with the cousins (and they him) & the land too. So it is with little wonder we talked often of living there someday.
Someday has come.
High above the valley floor sits this lovely log roost that will be our next home. I like to think of it as saghalie ~ a Native American term that means high and holy land (think integrity). The house is pitched on the ridge directly across from Jackass Butte, actually looking down at it ~ a feature that will allow me to deeply ponder those long ago people & their times. Surrounded by pear & apple orchards behind & below, it will soon harbor all our worldly possessions As of this writing it already has a piece of my heart.
I can't help but think how surprised & blessed would be the ancestors long gone. What drew them well over 100 years ago has now drawn me. I hope to write much of that common ground, the saghalie sort. In fact, I've already spied out the perch from which I'll pen those tales.
Footnote: While we have purchased the home, several things delay our actual move. We've targeted April/May. For now, we sit tight in a lovely little condo not far from our previous home here ~ a home that sold the same day we put it on the market.